Mothers and wives of slain Russian soldiers were left furious after controversial President Vladimir Putin allegedly staged a meeting with a group of ultra-loyalist women claiming to have lost loved ones in the war.
Putin is believed to have specifically chosen a group who would not complain or ask him difficult questions, while many Russian women were left heartbroken and wanting answers about their fallen relatives.
"I would like you to know that, that I personally, and the whole leadership of the country — we share your pain," the embattled politician declared at the meeting that took place at his home.
"We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son — especially for a mother," he continued, before repeating, "We share this pain."
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The Russo-Ukrainian War, which started in 2014, reached a new level in late February of this year after Russian invaded Ukraine. The number of Russian military members who have been killed in the conflict is believed to be more than 100,000 people.
During the televised meeting, Putin insisted their country "will achieve" their goals "in the end," accusing Ukraine of attempts to "devalue, [and] compromise" Russia's war tactics.
However, shortly after the conference, Russian media was quick to recognize that the alleged grieving mothers and wives that Putin met with were well known loyalists. Nadezhda Uzanova, a woman from Abakan who is a known member of patriotic group Combat Brotherhood, was identified as appearing at several other of Putin's political events. She even sang the Russian national anthem after he illegally annexed and invaded areas of Ukraine, naming them Kremlin territories.
A second woman in attendance by the name of Anna Gerusova was believed to be a wife of a military commisar and Yulia Belekhoba regularly shared her pro war views. It was even speculated that some of the women there may not have children who had served in the Russian military at all.
One woman who was not allowed at the high profile event was Olga Tsukanova, who has publicly spoken out against Putin after her 20-year-old son went missing during the war.
"Do you have enough courage to look into our eyes — openly, in a meeting with women who weren't hand-picked for you…?" she later taunted him. "Women who aren't in your pocket, but real mothers who have travelled here from different cities at their own expense, to meet with you? We are here, in Moscow, and we are ready to meet with you. We expect an answer from you. Are you going to keep hiding from us?"
DailyMail reported the identities of the women at the event, as well as Tsukanova's pleas.